Friday, October 27, 2017

Scenes from a Battlefield Walk

After a cold rainy day on Thursday, Friday dawned bright and sunny, with a cobalt sky swept with high, diaphanous wisps of cloud.  This was the kind of day that called for a walk under open skies, and what better place for just that kind of walk than the Saratoga Battlefield in nearby Stillwater?

Now a national historical park, this many-acred site preserves the location of the first significant American military victory of the Revolutionary War in 1777, a victory that encouraged the French to enter the war as a decisive ally of the American forces, leading to the eventual defeat of the British and the founding of the American republic. Observing these quiet rolling hills today, it's hard to believe they once resounded with the roar of cannons and the screams of the wounded, for the only sound today was the gentle whispering of a breeze through the grasses and the soft plodding of our own footsteps on the mown path.

Some scenes from our walk:  A solitary apple tree on the slope of a hill, the tree stripped of all the fruit that grew within reach of the many deer that take refuge in this preserve.

The remaining apples, high in the tree, glowed ruby red against the sky.

While most of the meadow-side maples had already lost their leaves, the oaks were only now just turning their vivid autumn colors.

The park annually mows most of these fields to retain the appearance of the farmlands that would have been cultivated here back in the late 18th Century.   But I was glad we found a few acres that still retained wide swaths of tawny unmowed Little Bluestem Grass and dark-red thickets of Blackberry bushes.

Despite being mowed again and again, purple tufts of Brown Knapweed still poke up through the tall grass along the path.  I know this plant is considered invasive, but there's no denying its flower's  colorful beauty, and this syrphid fly, a drone-bee look-alike called Eristalis tenax, certainly seemed glad to find a source of nectar and pollen this late in the year.  This fly is a very beneficial insect, an important pollinator of flowers, and its larvae are avid devourers of aphids and other plant pests.

Here came a Wooly Bear caterpillar creeping across a paved path, making a diligent bee-line for who knows where?  Where did it come from, way out here in the open amid vast meadows?  And where is it headed to find a cozy spot to spend the winter?  I have no idea.  I just greeted it and watched it go on its way.

1 comment:

The Furry Gnome said...

That's a very different walk from your usual reports!